Why Uber is sending drivers to uni
UBER is working on an ambitious plan to offer free university courses to Aussie drivers as part of a new loyalty scheme being rolled out today.
The multibillion-dollar ride-sharing company will launch its new Uber Pro program in Australia and New Zealand, promising Uber drivers discounted petrol, free coffees, and discounts on tyres, based on their level of service and use of the platform.
But Uber told News Corp that the scheme would be expanded in future to include university courses, similar to offers made to the company's US drivers.
Uber's plans come as the company faces fresh competition in Australia from Asian challengers such as DiDi and Ola, which are promising to pay drivers more.
Uber Australia and New Zealand driver head Lucas Groeneveld said the company devised the loyalty scheme after feedback from its drivers and based around their biggest expenses.
Appearing in the Uber Driver app, Uber Pro will offer all drivers free coffee at Caltex Foodary Express outlets, and discounts on services from H&R Block and QuickBooks.
Drivers will also earn points towards four membership tiers - blue, gold, platinum and diamond - that will unlock further discounts including 12 cents per litre off fuel at 650 Caltex service stations, 20 per cent off Super Cheap Auto, and 10 per cent off tyres at Bridgestone Select.
But the biggest drawcard of the loyalty scheme - free university courses - would be added later, Mr Groeneveld told News Corp, as the company was currently in negotiations with providers.
"In the US, we have a partnership with Arizona State University that's been really well received," he said.
"We're actively in discussions with a couple of leading universities in Australia to unlock a similar education benefit for our drivers here."
Mr Groeneveld said the university courses would be offered online, and many would focus on growing an Uber driver's business skills.
"A third of our drivers, when we surveyed them, told us they have ambitions to start their own businesses," he said. "All of our drivers have ABNs and are GST-registered, so they're on the right track already.
"Overwhelmingly, drivers tell us that they see education as a key enabler for their growth."
Uber tested a similar scheme for its drivers in the US last November, before rolling it out to 20 further cities this May.
University courses in the US included classes in entrepreneurship and the English language, though drivers could also earn credits towards an undergraduate degree.
The new Uber Pro loyalty program launches just one week after Chinese rival DiDi launched its ride-sharing service in Brisbane, promising to give a larger portion of fares to drivers.
Other local Uber competitors include India's Ola and Shebah, developed in Australia for female passengers.